Vancouver and Nashville open their Western Conference Semi-Final tonight.
British Columbia fans would be foolish to think this will be a cake walk. The Predators have one of the best coaches (Barry Trotz), one of the best defensemen (Norris Trophy finalist Shea Weber), and one of the best goaltenders (Vezina Trophy finalist Pekka Rinne) in the game. (Not to mention the hottest wife in all of hockey in Carrie Underwood.)
The Preds are a speedy team that are built to fit Trotz's desired style. They may lack offensive stars up front, but they can roll 3 or even 4 lines that are all alike in mindset. It's like a constant wave of more of the same - stifling, tough hockey.
Scoring goals will not be easy. No team won a head-to-head regular season game while scoring more than 3 goals. Speaking of the head to head regular season match ups, let's take a look. Click on the image to enlarge it.
I picked Nashville to beat Anaheim based on superior goaltending and team speed. Nashville does not have either advantage over Vancouver. I will pick the Canucks to win in 6.
If Nashville is going to win this series, they need to strike quick. They can catch Vancouver in game one, as the Canucks may struggle to find their rhythm coming off of such a high in beating Chicago as dramatically as they did. If the Preds can subsequently stifle Vancouver in game 2 as well, look out.